Goal number one is done for me this year. The American Birkebeiner is over and what a tremendous experience it was! Over 10,000 skiers lodged in the sleepy town of Hayward, Wisconsin–all excited to embark on a frigid 50-kilometer ski race over some very challenging terrain. What a great vibe at this event and I cannot wait to do it again!
I am so glad VQ athlete and friend, Jim Michler, convinced me last year to get involved with cross country skiing this winter. It saved my brain and my fitness. Preparing for the event with Coach Schisler (who ripped a 2:30 Birkie this year by the way!) and many other VQers was a whole new twist to my winter training.
I had a very challenging late winter. With a death in the family and several trips to Europe for Versus, the necessary consistency was not in the cards for me. Understanding that consistency is one of the most important training concepts to execute, preparing for this goal was not easy for me. Let’s just say I never came close to overtraining! HA!
The event itself was spectacular. Challenging, scary at times, positive, fresh and just out-and-out FUN! I finished around 950th (#945 actually, with a time of 2:53) and was happy as a clam that I managed that! Knowing that I am a competitive person, you may think getting 945th is not that spectacular. But over the years I have learned that the place means very little if the process was successful. I learned to ski this year…I managed to stay in OK shape…I learned a new skill…I made new friends…I competed in a legendary event…and I was able to experience outdoor training this winter. All that made the 945th feel great. My hyper-competitive streak may have dulled a bit, but my desire to do my best is–and always will be–there. I skied as hard and as fast as I could and left nothing in the tank. I love competing this way because I love the feeling (in a masochistic way) of being totally smoked. And believe me, after three hours of skiing at my limit, I did not have an ounce of energy left at the end.
Now that it is officially springtime and the snow is melting, the roads are looking pretty nasty. Head outdoors…but don’t forget the value of the precision and control you have indoors. I would still recommend at least one very specific indoor workout a week. Our terrain and roads make it very tough to do highly controllable, dosed workouts outdoors effectively. So don’t be afraid to pair some indoor consistency with outdoor riding.
I also want to encourage everyone to get VQ safety-certified. More info on this to come, but the goal is to ride safely and get along with all vehicles. As the endurance community grows, it becomes more and more important to ride safely, follow the rules of traffic and work with drivers to create a safe environment on the roads for everyone. Start easy and get your confidence and skills back before you start engaging in high-speed group rides with tons of people.
I hope everyone has a great spring! In the meantime, my next goal awaits: I am fired up for the CAF Million Dollar Challenge. Sure, 620 miles in seven days will be tough, but like I said earlier: getting ready for the event is when the real fun happens!
Cheers to everyone and have a great spring!